Our system of criminal justice is founded upon the principal that no person should be punished unless a group of impartial citizens, having reviewed the evidence of the case, declare unanimously that the person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. For the system to work, the jury must be sheltered from outside influence and sources of information, and the people who may contact the members of the jury while a case is ongoing is severely restricted.
However, occasionally a juror will take it upon him or herself to conduct their own investigation of the facts, review news online, on television, or in print about the case, or purposefully hide biases and prejudices in order to cast a vote on the case that supports his or her own personal beliefs. These are acts that are considered juror misconduct, and could negatively impact your right to a fair trial.
Juror Misconduct in California
“Juror misconduct” is a term that includes a number of acts taken by a juror that are out of the bounds of the rules under which a jury proceeds. These may or may not affect the outcome of the case.
Some examples of juror misconduct might include a jury member doing one or more of the following:
- Conducting an independent investigation of the facts with evidence not introduced in court.
- Speaking to other people who are not members of the jury about the case without the court’s permission.
- Speaking to other jury members about the case when the full jury is not present and engaged in official deliberations.
- Refusing to deliberate
- Concealing biases after having been asked during jury selection.If your jury is tainted by one or more of these acts, your attorney can bring the matter to the court’s attention, which could result in the dismissal of the offending juror(s) if the case is ongoing, declaration of mistrial, or, if the case has been concluded, grant you a new trial.
Not All Juror Misconduct Results in a New Trial
You might assume that a juror’s misconduct that is discovered after you are found guilty gives you an automatic right to appeal or seek a new trial. While it is grounds for an appeal, the critical factor is how much the misconduct affected the outcome of the case. The court will examine any claim of misconduct, but the conviction can only be reversed or vacated when “the court finds a substantial likelihood that the vote of one or more jurors was influenced by exposure to prejudicial matter relating to the defendant or to the case itself that was not part of the trial record on which the case was submitted to the jury.” If the court determines that the juror’s misconduct did not significantly influence the jury, the motion for a new trial can be denied and the conviction can be allowed to stand.
Contact the Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today For Help With Your Case
If you believe that your jury was tainted by the misconduct of a juror, you should not hesitate to engage the services of an attorney experienced in criminal appeals. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have more than 35 years of successful experience in helping people like you appeal convictions that were the result of juror misconduct. Our dedicated and knowledgeable team of attorneys is ready to help you, too.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, San Diego, West Covina, Torrance, Barstow, and Victorville, there is an experienced and skilled Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will be there when you call.